Recent Books Fall 2019 Edition

Posted on 09/08/2019 in misc

I’ve been trying to read more books written by authors that aren’t white dudes. 4 out the 7 below are not written by white dudes, but one of the white dude novels features a strong female lead character, so 1/2 credit on that one?

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

I wanted to love this dystopian novel that feels like it was written in response to Trump, but was really written in 1993. But I just could not connect with it. I finished it. I didn’t hate it, but I haven’t had any inclination to read the sequel. Butler is a fabulous author so I’m going to give her another try, just not with this series. If you have a suggestions feel free to share it with me.

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel by Mary Robinette Kowal

“That’s nice.” Which is Southern for “fuck that.”

I loved this book. It’s an alternative history based on the idea that a meteor lands off the east coast in the early days of the space race, obliterating the eastern half of the US and setting off a climate catastrophe that will render the earth uninhabitable soon. It doesn’t shy away, and in fact leans into the misogyny and racism that would have been a basic fact of life in the early 50s. There is a sequel and I will read it soon.

The Lesson by Caldwell Turner

For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportionate wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last.

Written with a deep sense of place leaves you feeling like you just visited the US Virgin Islands, and a plot that goes way beyond standard first contact fare to make thoughtful connections between white European colonialism in the Caribbean with the tentacle headed reptilian colonialism on the island in the book, US Virgin native Caldwell Turner has delivered a debut novel that has me already wondering what he will give us next.

Glory Riders: A Western Sextet by Louis L'Amour

I got a hankering to read a western and this collection of L’Amour short stories was $.99. Even with my first exposure to L’Amour the formula became evident pretty quickly. I’m pretty sure the good guys always win. I was entertained but I think I’d get bored quickly by his novels.

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

“They summoned Ptah, the Egyptian god of creation. The blacksmith god. And they came to an accord, which resulted in him forging a dream for them. The American Dream.”

“Life’s not something you tuck away and wait to use. Life runs out. Every day, every minute, whether you use it or not.”

This was a really inventive time travel story that mixes up a National Treasure style treasure hunt with some Dr. Who and Back to the Future time travel as our protagonists get chased through time by government agents. I was highly entertained. Also, it features a strong female lead character.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarch

"The American economy is less like a dream supported by democracy than it is like an inconsistent god. Most of us, regardless of economic station, sacrifice a great deal to it."

"America has an idea that people in poverty make sketchy decisions, but everyone does. The poor just have less room for their errors, which will be laid bare in public for need of help."

Journalist / university professor Sarah Smarch attempts to help the rest of us understand what it’s like to grow up white and poor through the microcosm of her working class poor family that has spent several generations stuck on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. This book mines the same territory as JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, but does it better IMO. I wasn’t a big fan of the creative choice to structure the book as a letter to her unborn child, but you can mostly ignore that as you read the book.

Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly

"The ISS is a remarkable achievement of technology and international cooperation. It has been inhabited nonstop since November 2, 2000; put another way, it has been more than fourteen years since all humans were on the Earth at once."

A straightforward and entertaining autobiography from the man who spent one consecutive year aboard the International Space Station.

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